Home Remedies: Separating Fact From Fiction

If you, or someone you know, have ever had a skunk move in under a porch, deck, or shed, or had a raccoon get into your soffits chances are you have looked for home remedies to deter the animal. Two of the most common deterrents that homeowners find or are told to use are ammonia and moth balls. At Calgary Humane Wildlife Control (CHWC), we are constantly seeing and experiencing these home remedies and they just don’t work. So we would like to set the record straight and inform people “why” they don’t work.

Although ammonia soaked rags might work for some mammals, like hares, coyotes, and voles for example, ammonia will not deter a skunk or raccoon. We have had clients tells us they tried putting ammonia soaked rags by a skunk’s burrow entrance only to have the skunk drag it into the burrow to use as nesting material. The same goes for raccoons. When using ammonia rags for any other animal the ammonia must be replenished often and at very least, daily. It also requires that you know the movements of the animal as you need to place them in areas that you see the animal frequent. And, at best it is a short term solution, the animals adapt to the ammonia over time. And let’s face it, if a skunk can stand its own smell…? The theory behind the use of ammonia as a deterrent is that it is supposed to mimic the urine of a predator. However, animals aren’t typically preyed upon by bottles of ammonia, so they don’t recognize ammonia as a predator. You would have better success having a male human pee around a burrow entrance than you would using ammonia. Urine is often successful in getting a coyote to move its den site. But it must be male urine, seems to have something to do with the testosterone in male urine. However, once again it doesn’t work with skunks. They do view us humans as predators, but urban skunks have adapted to living alongside us and don’t really view us as much of a threat. We usually run in the opposite direction at first sight of a skunk.

I’m not really sure where the idea of spreading moth balls all over the place to get rid of skunks and raccoons came from, but again it’s just a myth. Maybe it’s just because they stink, that people believe them to work, but moth balls do not work. What’s worse is that moth balls are believed to be a known carcinogen. So why would you want something around that could be hazardous to you, your family and your pets? But the smell! It will linger for a long long time. Part of CHWC’s service includes deodorization of a space once the animal has been excluded, but no amount of deodorizer will get rid of the moth ball smell once it leeches into the soil. So please, just don’t use them.

The best way, and the most humane way, to rid your home and property of skunks and raccoons is to call Calgary Humane Wildlife Control. We use exclusion techniques that have been tried and proven for more than 25 years. Animals are never trapped. Therefore family units remain intact and no one get’s left behind to die. So, if you, or a friend, find your home or property has been invaded by any animal remember, for a long term, guaranteed solution the only call you will need to make is to Calgary Humane Wildlife Control at 547-888-9453 (WILD).

By Ken Cheek, CHWC